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Ask Dr. Nandi: CDC abruptly removes guidance about airborne coronavirus transmission, says update 'was posted in error'

Posted at 5:51 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 17:51:24-04

(WXYZ) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had just updated its guidance regarding how COVID-19 spreads, but all that changed again today.

Last Friday, the CDC acknowledged the possibility that the virus could travel farther than 6 feet and could potentially be spread through small particles in the air. But just hours ago, this new information was abruptly removed.

Yes, the CDC did in fact, revert back to its previous guidance regarding how COVID-19 spreads. As to what happened, well their website states that “A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website.”

Now, it does appear that in the near future, the CDC is planning to update its recommendation regarding the airborne transmission of the coronavirus. And they said that once their process is complete, they’ll post the new info to their site.

Scientists studying the virus have been pushing health agencies for months now, to acknowledgment airborne transmission. And that’s because of the mounting evidence that shows the coronavirus can be spread through microscopic respiratory particles, also referred to as aerosols.

And so it did look like the CDC was moving forward with this science.

Because on Friday they had posted that “It is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes”.

It went on to say that particles could potentially travel farther than 6 feet, in places like restaurants, exercise classes, or during choir practice. And that particles might linger in the air where people could potentially breathe them in.

But unfortunately, all this language is gone, it’s been removed. So, we’re just waiting to see what their next update will say.

The CDC does not mention airborne particles at this time. The site says that the virus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. And that these droplets could land in a person’s mouth or nose where they can be inhaled in and cause infection.

So, while it's disappointing that the CDC accidentally updated its recommendations and then removed the info, please don’t let this confuse or discourage you. Nothing changes the fact that this virus is very contagious.

What’s important here is that we need to continue with the safety protocols: wearing a mask, washing your hands, disinfecting common surfaces, and social distancing at least 6 feet apart.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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